HOLLYWOOD—It was last year’s sleeper hit of the TV season; it was HBO’s “True Detective.” The crime drama which starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson delivered some stellar work from both actors and produced riveting narrative that was gripping. Season two of the drama returned Sunday with a new host of characters, actors and actresses hoping to capture the same magic for a second go-around.
Taylor Kitsch, Vince Vaughn, Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams have juicy roles for the new season, which revolves around the murder of a corrupt politician who has connections with a career criminal. That connection draws in our detectives who become intertwined with the investigation.
Paul Woodrugh (Kitsch) is first to stumble upon the murder, which peaks interest for Detective Ray Velcoro (Farrell) and Detective Ani Bezzerides (McAdams). Vaugh dives into darker territory with his performance as Frank Semyon; it’s a departure for the actor who hasn’t ventured into such trajectory in his career.
The first episode, ‘The Western Book of the Dead’ kicked off with Velcoro having a conversation with his son about his first day of school; it’s apparent he’s the absent father. He revealed a dark tale to authorities about the man who raped his wife and his battle to gain custody of his child. He even resorted to bribery as a tool of effect.
The audience soon discovers that Ray had dealings with crime lord Seymon, who has leverage on the law enforcer. His wife portrayed by Kelly Reilly, is a thorn in his side. She seems to be by his side during every business move he makes. For a man with so much power, he seems frightened by her in the oddest way. As the story progresses, we meet Ani who seems to be into kinky sex, which frightens her partner more than her.
It’s an interesting dynamic to see the writers place a female character in a role that allows her to mimic what men do, without the consequences. When she stumbles upon an apparent prostitution ring, she is riled up to come face-to-face with her porn star sister. Ani has a fractured relationship with her father, who is a religious cult leader. David Morse exudes a level of zany, yet scary dimensions to his character.
California Highway Patrol Officer Woodrugh (Kitsch) finds himself in trouble with the law after being accused of sexual harassment when he fails to resist temptation. Velcoro finds himself investigating the disappearance of a notable politician at his home they discover a disturbed crime scene.
It is quite interesting how reality imitates fantasy, as Semyon’s involvement of the high-speed rail train making waves in the city of Vinci is big news. Velcoro does the unthinkable as he attacks a reporter, all the while, hoping a druggie will keep his secret. Ray lost composure when he discovered that his son was being bullied in school and took matters into his own hands, by brutally beating the father of his son’s attacker, while physically restraining the child. Wow, Farrell is seriously digging deep for this character.
Paul apparently has commitment issues when it comes to relationships, as he attempts to find every excuse in the book to steer clear of getting too attached. What the coincidence that Velcoro and Semyon find themselves face-to-face all these years later discussing killing a story that could be the downfall of Semyon’s criminal lifestyle.
Paul being the daredevil he is decides to ride his motorcycle in complete darkness at a high-rate of speed, which nearly proves to be a disaster. It is here he stumbles across the staged dead body of the missing politician. With that body, Ani, Ray and Paul collide and will find themselves working together to solve a mystery.
I will admit the first episode slowly ramped up the narrative. If anything I would argue that the episode set the stage to deliver to the audience a strong element of who our title characters for the season are; their personalities, their dark demons, their family drama and the psychology behind their actions. “True Detective” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.